1930s Washburn 5237 000-Size X-Braced Flattop Guitar

This, folks, is what we call a "rare beauty." There are not a whole lot of high-grade, x-braced Washburns from this time running about in the world. Who could've afforded them during the Depression, right? This guitar's quality is in line with a Martin or Gibson from the same time -- it has a classy, cleanly-cut build.

At the time, the brand was owned by the Tonk Brothers and while early versions suggest JR Stewart handling, most seem to have been made by Regal for the brand (as was often the case through the '20s, as far as I'm concerned). This one definitely has a Regal-style neck and its binding style and internal quality remind me of high-grade Regal "Custom Shop" work from the times, but Folkway Music suggests that these bodies might have been JR Stewart left-overs, so I'm not going to stick my foot in it one way or the other.

What matters is this: it has a 12-fret, 000-size body (15 1/4" on the lower bout), a tight-grained solid spruce top, light and scalloped x-bracing in a Martin-esque pattern, a longer (25 5/16") scale length, and rosewood back and sides. Some earlier Washburns were made with plywood sides and solid backs but the grain patterns seem to match-up pretty well to my eyes, so they look (and sound) solid to me.

In specs that makes this like a long-scale 000-28 12-fretter -- sort-of like a Collings 000 -- but with more of a wide-bottom warmth, woodiness, and roundness to its tone. It simply adores being slammed with a flatpick just as much as it loves fingerpicking. It'd serve as a primo "backup" guitar but will also get you a big, fat, full-sounding lead voice for melody picking without too much nuance behind the notes.

The frets are nice, tall, original bar stock and the big, 1 7/8" nut width gives plenty of room for those that like wider boards. It has a light radius to the board and a big, thick, soft-V/C mixed rear shape to the neck.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, cleats to the center seam on the top below the bridge, recut of the saddle slot, a new compensated bone saddle, replacement bridge pins, general cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight and the gauges are 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 -- but it should be fine with regular 12s, too, though I tend to play it safe with lightly-braced guitars from this time.

Scale length: 25 5/16"
Nut width: 1 7/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 5/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/2"
Body length: 20"
Lower bout width: 15 1/4"
Waist width: 9 1/4"
Upper bout width: 11"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: rosewood
Bracing type: x-braced (scalloped)
Fretboard: ebony, original bone nut
Bridge: ebony, replacement "vintage-looking" bone (comp'd) saddle
Neck feel: med-big soft V/C shape, ~16" board radius

Condition notes: it's quite clean for its age. There are some larger scratches and blemishes on the sides and back and some pickwear around the soundhole, but overall it looks great. Aside from a repair to separation at the lower-bout-top center seam, the guitar is crack-free and in good order. The bridge might not be original but it is ebony and in the correct shape. It came with a straight slot in it, however, which suggests it is original. I achieve proper compensation at the saddle simply by widening the slot and sculpting the saddle itself to get the angle I needed.

It comes with: a newer, good, Guardian hard case. It's at the bottom of my case pile at the moment, so that's why I didn't grab pictures of it. It's good to go.


Unknown said…
Nice one! Braz or EIR?